Riley: “Not a new culture, but to tightening the screws on a culture that sometimes erodes just a little bit.”
Life in the NBA moves fast.
Josh Richardson experienced just how fast this summer. The 25-year-old wing went from finishing the season as the Heat’s leading scorer at 16.6 points per game to finding himself on the 76ers’ roster just months later.
But Richardson moved on fast.
The Heat dealt Richardson to the 76ers as part of the sign-and-trade package that landed four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler in July. At first there was a feeling of shock, but that quickly turned into excitement for Richardson.
“It was tough. Bam [Adebayo] was with me when it happened,” Richardson said Saturday night during a break from watching Big3 basketball action at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“I mean once it happened and I started looking at everything, it was smooth. I got excited once I saw our roster that we’re going to be working with, and I think we’ve got a good chance to come out of the East. And I’m excited to be able to go and play for a contender.”
Richardson spent the first four seasons of his NBA career with the Heat, making the playoffs twice during that span. Miami advanced out of the first round just once in that time before being eliminated by Toronto in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
“I mean my rookie year I was thinking that, I was thinking championship,” Richardson said of that 2016 run with the Heat. “And I think if we could have got past Toronto, I thought we had a good shot at it. And this year I’m not putting no crazy, lofty guarantees or expectations or anything out there, but I think we have a great team and hopefully we should be at the top of the East.”
Richardson will face his former team for the first time when the Heat takes on the 76ers in Philadelphia on Nov. 23. His first game back against the Heat will be in Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on Dec. 28.
The 76ers are viewed by many as one of the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference this season despite losing Butler to the Heat. The additions of big man Al Horford and Richardson helped make up for Butler’s departure.
With a core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Horford, Richardson could go from Heat leading scorer to 76ers secondary option.
“It’s not really like that — one through five — that makes no sense,” Richardson said of the notion that he’ll be the fifth option with Philadelphia. “It’s not like a certain amount of touches every game. But being able to play with so much talent, it’s exciting. You can’t give one guy too much attention because you have four other guys that can hurt you just as much. Being able to play with guys like Ben and Jo, Tobias, Al is just, I don’t know, I’m excited.”
During his time with the Heat, Richardson got to play and grow alongside Justise Winslow. As the two players in Miami’s 2015 draft class, Winslow as the 10th overall pick and Richardson as the 40th overall pick, they were labeled by teammates as “Rook 1” and “Rook 2.”
“Getting to learn with Justise was a pleasure, and I think he’s going to keep growing,” Richardson said. “And I thought we had great vets our rookie year to kind of take us in, because everybody doesn’t get that opportunity. So, we still get to keep in touch with those guys. So I’m grateful for that.”
Richardson, who averaged a career-high 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 73 games last season, is grateful for a lot when it comes to his time in Miami. He plans to keep a place in South Florida for his offseasons.
“I mean, yeah, my bothers still play here,” Richardson said when asked if he’ll still keep an eye on the Heat. “Like I’m a Heat fan. I’ll be a Suns fan [for Tyler Johnson]. I’ll be a Clippers fan [for Rodney McGruder]. I’ll be a fan of all the teams that my bothers are still on. I’ll be keeping up with you guys and hopefully my boys are doing good. But when it comes to game time, it’s business.”